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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Toy Story: 1949

Toy Story: 1949

October 1949. "Cowboy entertainer Gene Autry posing with children's clothing and toys which have his name and/or image on them." Kodachrome from photos by Frank Bauman and Stanley Kubrick for Look magazine. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

The historical star of this photo is...

Eastman Kodachrome -- with due respect to Gene Autry. Sharp, rich colors combined with perfect skin tone.

Moppet Picture Projector

Billboard, December 31, 1949.

CHICAGO, Dec. 24. — Ray Marchbanks, regional chief for Capitol disks here, and Henry Saperstein, prexy of Hollywood Toy Television Corporation, new moppet picture projector, met last week to discuss the possibility of Cap taking over national distribution for the kid gimmick. Introduced to the market last June, the toy video set retailed at $9.95 for a red plastic case outfit that carried a four-by-three inch screen. By inserting foot-long strips of film, the child could see a six-minute show of animated cartoons. The cost of the original set included six such strips, which make a complete 30-minute movie. Saperstein has 17 story subjects, including Woody Woodpecker, Hopalong Cassidy and Gene Autry. These strips retailed for six for $1.

Media Mogul

1949 was also the year he sold 2.5 million copies of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and the year before he came out with "Here Comes Santa Claus." The man was clearly doing something right.

Hoppy, Gene and Roy

Though I would watch Gene and Hoppy, Roy was the real deal, when I was a lad. I was Roy, my bike was Trigger. Our dog, a Cocker Spaniel had little interest in being Bullet. My cousin, who's real name is Dale would, of course, be Dale. I had RR cap pistols, but rarely had the nickle for a box of caps. No problem, "Pow Pow" sounds were almost as good. We must have killed a thousand bad guys.
Ironically, one of my current "heroes" is, also, named Roy Rogers, the finest slide guitarist around today. His given name is RR, unlike the, late, Leonard Slye.
BTW, if you visit Los Angeles, The Autry Museum is a must see

More Picture for MORE Dollars

According to my Inflation Calculator, that television would cost about $2,280 in 2012 dollars (the last year available).
All that for what, two or three channels - and NO UHF stations unless you bought a separate converter.


Roy Rogers is always mentioned as the TV and movie cowboy with a plethora of marketing items for sale, but this photo proves that Gene was certainly no slouch. Kind of miss this wholesome children's entertainment. Simple stories with real morals included!

Red "TV" viewer

it seems to be styled after the Bakelite General Electric TV from the same year.

TV collectors (ahem) refer to this model as "The Locomotive" because it resembles the streamlined locomotives of the time.

The second luckiest man in show business

God bless Gene "Ornery". No actor, and not much of a singer, but a darn good businessman for a kid from Oklahoma! Flying A gas stations, KTLA TV, the Angels, and the Autry Museum of Western Art in LA, and I'm sure there was much more.

(In my opinion, Ringo Starr still ranks #1 luckiest.)


That looks like a Viewmaster viewer at the upper right, behind a series of Viewmaster disks in their cardboard sleeves.

[It's actually a "Hollywood Toy Television," which showed short film strips of still pictures. -tterrace]

A quick eBay peek

Comics- $10-$45
Chaps- $150
Holster (w/o gun) $55
T-shirt (on left) $24.99
Spurs (w/o leather strap) $50
Fan badge-$5.00
Cap gun (w/o grips) $10.00
Cap gun (w/grips) $80-$175
Watch- $30 or $175
White double holster (in red box)- $195

I found 6200 separate listings!
A few highlights shown there but not in the image:
A record player, many records, flashlights, alarm clock(NIB), dime novels, pennant, guitar, lunch boxes, LA Angels Autry autographed baseball, pen knife, Flying A horseshoe nail ring, and far too many more to list.
Enough for a museum.

Trigger fingers

I'm a big Gene Autry fan but I'm disappointed he had both fingers firmly on the triggers of those cap guns. That's no way to teach gun safety to impressionable youngsters.

Successful Branding

The postwar prosperity + Baby Boom + TV seems to have been quite lucrative for him--and the "Repeating Cap Pistol" pictured recently brought an eBay seller $461 after spirited bidding.

Tried the cap guns ...

but never wore the jeans.

Sixty-four years later

This picture of old familiar boy's toys and joys really takes me back to my youth when my little brother and our neighbor were both completely in awe of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers (who seemed to be featured at every weekend matinee in our small town). The neighbor was even named Gene and took his idol very seriously, owning just about all of the items pictured plus an entire bedroom suite of Autry furniture, bedspread, sheet, etc. Today, both the real Genes are gone. We all played with toy guns and none of us became murderers or even animal hunters, just pretend cowboys who kept our loved ones and property safe from all those "bad guys".

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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